486 HISTORY OF PERSIA CHAP. LXXX and Russia became more acute as the years went by. Both powers were fighting keenly to forward their respective interests, and consequently it was impossible, in the absence of any definite agreement, to avoid friction. Persians have frequently told me that the Tobacco Regie was a very heavy blow to the moral prestige of Great Britain. This was followed by the two loans, both of which were furnished by Russia, but the really crushing blow was the new customs tariff. These blows were mainly delivered while Great Britain was engaged in the South African War and consequently was not free to take a strong line. Against these undoubted shocks to the moral and material prestige of the British Government can only be set the tour of Lord Curzon in the Persian Gulf, the Sistan Boundary Commission and the opening of the Nushki-Sistan route. The appearance of the Viceroy of India in the Persian Gulf in the winter of 1903, escorted by the East India squadron, reacted favourably on the political situation, as it corroborated the statement of policy by Lord Lansdowne in the previous spring. Speak- ing in the House of Lords, the British Foreign Minister had declared: "I say it without hesitation, we should regard the establishment of a naval base or of a fortified port in the Persian Gulf by any other power as a very grave menace to British interests, and we should certainly resist it with all the means at our disposal." This state- ment was timely and served as an encouragement to British officials in Persia. It may be noted that during Lord Curzon's tenure of the Viceroyalty increased interest was manifested in Persia by the Government of India. Many new consulates were founded, a trade mission was de- spatched to south-east Persia, and in every way British commerce was fostered and supported. Owing to these measures British prestige gradually recovered, until the results of the Russo-Japanese struggle modified the policy of Russia in the direction of an understanding with Great Britain.